JF2003: The Power of Virtual Help With Daniel Ramsey
Daniel Ramsey bought his first house at 24 and it was an investment property for him. Daniel’s journey as an entrepreneur took him on a path to hire his own Virtual Assistants to help him in his business and later discovering a need in the marketplace and decided to start MyOutDesk. He shares how valuable VA’s can be for your business and how it can double your business rather than just replacing a task. You will learn some valuable unique questions he asks every entrepreneur before they hire his company to make sure they can grow their business. These questions can help you even if you do not hire a VA.
Daniel Ramsey Real Estate Background:
- Founder & CEO of MyOutDesk, a virtual assistant company
- Licensed real estate broker, mortgage broker, and general contractor has sold hundreds of homes and made millions in commissions
- Based in Sacramento, CA
- Say hi to him at https://www.myoutdesk.com/
- Best Ever Book: The Richest Man in Babylon
Best Ever Tweet:
“You’ve cut $100,000 dollars of my payroll every 2 weeks, so by adding virtual assistants we were saving our clients money and grow revenue.” – Daniel Ramsey
Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners, and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks, I’ll be hosting today’s episode, and today we’re speaking with Daniel Ramsey. Daniel, how are you doing today?
Daniel Ramsey: I’m great, Theo. Thanks for having me today.
Theo Hicks: Absolutely and thank you for joining us. I’m looking forward to a very high energy conversation. So a little bit about Daniel – he is the founder and CEO of MyOutDesk, which is a virtual assistant company; he’s also a licensed real estate broker, a mortgage broker and a general contractor who has sold hundreds of homes and made millions in commissions. Currently based in the Sacramento, and you can say hi to him at myoutdesk.com. So Daniel, before we get started, can you tell us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on now?
Daniel Ramsey: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m a real estate broker. I bought my first house when I was 24, and it was an investment property for me. It was a four-bedroom, cookie-cutter, 1970s-built home, and the agent on the other side actually mailed me the keys, literally. He didn’t come and drop it off, there was no high five at the closing, he didn’t show up for anything. He’s like, “Hey, what’s your home address?” and I was like, “Well, it’s this.” And he literally said, “Well, I’m gonna mail you the keys.”
So once I closed on the transaction, I looked at how much he made – 3% of a $200,000 investment, and then the lender actually made 2%. So between the two of them, they made 5%. I was thinking, “Well, I can do a better job than those guys,” and that’s how I got into real estate, just looking at the opportunities and saying, “I can do this,” and the rest is history.
Theo Hicks: So you started off as a broker and as a mortgage broker as well, sold a lot of homes. I want to focus on the MyOutDesk though, at least for the outset. So can you tell us a little bit about your virtual assistant company, how it got started, and maybe more importantly, why it got started?
Daniel Ramsey: Sure, my favorite story about that is – I’m on my honeymoon, it’s 2009, and I’m literally serving investors, helping them buy properties and buying properties for myself, and I have this great photo of myself on the honeymoon, at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, working at the bar… And I was getting married, and I was thinking, “Man, if I want to stay married, I’ve got to get leverage. I need to get help in my business.” I was at that time like a helicopter delegator. I would delegate, but then pay attention to every single detail.
It was really at that time that we started expanding the use of virtual assistants in my own real estate game. So I was a mortgage broker, a real estate guy, a contractor; I flipped and bought properties and then we bought long term holds. Back then, the market was crazy with the Great Depression and all, or actually the Great Recession at that particular time. So like any entrepreneur, I needed help, and I needed it inexpensively. As an investor, our margins were really small and I thought, “Well, where could we find help?” At that time, there was a book called The World is Flat, and it was a great book. I picked it up and what I realized is that with the Internet and Skype and all the systems and tools out there, we could actually hire somebody really anywhere in the world, and they could do all of my paperwork, or they could do our marketing, or they could prospect for us.
So what happened is I started using virtual assistants, and a good friend of mine in San Diego, who did thousands of transactions a year, he said, “Hey, could you get me some?” So our first client literally was an investor, real estate guy in San Diego, and he said, “I need five,” and over a year period, he ended up having 17 virtual assistants running every aspect of his business. What I realized at that point– we were in a conversation, and I’m like, “Hey, so how much have we saved you?” and he’s like, “Literally, Daniel, every two weeks, you’ve cut $100,000 of my payroll, every two weeks,” because this guy had a huge operation. So by adding virtual assistants, we were basically saving our clients money and helping them grow revenue. So that’s the origin story of how MyOutDesk was born. It was just, I’m an entrepreneur and there’s a need.
Theo Hicks: How many investors are you working with now?
Daniel Ramsey: Tons. Over the last 12 years, we’ve served over 5,000 clients. Our focus, in the beginning was really the distressed market. I started outsourcing in 2007, and the exact number – I have no idea, but I know it’s in the hundreds of folks.
The big thing to think about if you’re listening right now and you’re an investor or in the real estate game, is how can you systemize or make a process out of what you’re doing every single day, and then have somebody added into that process that can help you drive revenue or save you money and/or time. That’s what we do, is we help strategically think about your business and how you’re growing, and then add talent in key areas that will really accelerate growth or save you a lot of money.
Theo Hicks: Can you walk me through the process, starting from someone who reaches out to you saying they want to use your service to they’re up and running with their VAs? What’s the process that you go through with them?
Daniel Ramsey: We have this wholesaler — he initially reached out to me back in 2011 or 2012, and I’ll just walk you through the process that we did with him. We do a consultation. So if you go to our website myoutdesk.com and you register for a consultation, what we do is we look at who’s on your team now, how are you generating revenue, and what systems and processes you have in place; and systems– I’m talking about tech platforms. I’m also talking about what third-party vendors are you using, how are you getting your managing projects, how are you selling property or buying property, how are you generating leads?
So we’ll look at how your business runs, who’s on your team, and then we strategically think “How could we double results?” That’s our one question. How can we double your business by adding virtual assistants? So what we’ve found is that when we slow entrepreneurs down, and they really start considering like, “Gosh, if my family’s life depended on it or if my life depended on it, and I had to double, let’s say, next year, what would I have to do differently? Or what would I have to create for my world to make that even a possibility?” Those are the questions that we ask when we do a consultation.
Every investor is different, every real estate person does things just a little bit different, but the tenets of generating revenue and growing a business, they’re all the same. So how you generate revenue is probably going to be very similar to how hundreds of our clients are. So we’ve gotten the depth of experience and past expertise that can really help set an investor up for success.
Theo Hicks: So I’m assuming that VAs can cover a lot of the different real estate duties. So rather than asking what they can do for you, what are some things that you’ve discovered that VAs are not a good fit for? What are some things that, I, as an investor should always do myself?
Daniel Ramsey: That’s a great question. Here’s the thing… I’m an entrepreneur, if you’re listening right now, you’re an entrepreneur – the thing that we do that’s just world-class is we can hold a lot of moving parts together, and we can be negotiating three transactions, in escrow on two others, talking to ten other investors, and then we have projects going across the city that we’re in, and we have a friend coming to town, and my daughter has soccer practice. That’s our unique skill. So you can’t outsource that. A lot of clients come to us and say, “Well, I really need help organizing my life and organizing my world and building my business,” and we aren’t in a position to give you a strategic thinker or somebody who can build your systems or help you grow your investment world.
What we can do though, and this is what we focus on, is if you’re generating leads in a process, then we can help you at 100% be a major player in that process, meaning we can prospect for you, we can help you drive leads, we can help you have more sales conversations every single day… Or we can help you market, meaning you have properties that you’re selling or properties that you’re in negotiation with – we can help you with all the marketing that is required on that. Or we can help you in the project management and/or transaction coordination piece where we’re doing the paperwork and helping you manage your projects correctly and positively. So those are the three areas that we focus on – sales, marketing and operations.
Theo Hicks: How are you finding the VAs?
Daniel Ramsey: It’s a great question. So if you’re listening right now, and if you’re considering hiring virtual assistants, what I’m going to go through is your must-have checklist. There’s a lot of virtual assistant companies out there that are just, what I would say, non-sophisticated, and that’s really scary for an investor, because your brand out in the marketplace and your word and what you’re doing in the world, it’s really important that we protect that. So number one, we’re an entity in the Philippines, which is where we operate. So we have a corporation over there and we’re a corporation here in the US. It’s really important that the country that the virtual assistants are in has legal representation, meaning we have an attorney over there, we have a CPA over there, we have a management team over there. So that’s one really important thing.
Number two, the technology is such a big deal because what we tell people is, your virtual assistant to show up to the job, they have to have a great computer, they have to have a great internet speed, and they have to have noise canceling headsets. So they show up online every day. So our virtual assistants start out with a start-of-day report and an end-of-day report.
So another thing that we do at a really high level is just make sure that we’ve got people who have all the systems that they need to be really successful for our clients, our real estate investor clients. So that’s another thing, and then the other thing is just screening them at a high level. We do an FBI grade background check way before you even interview somebody. We’re doing a physical — I mean, this is the craziness… Our people actually go to a doctor and get signed off from a doctor that they’re in healthy working conditions and they don’t have any issues or challenges. So we’re doing a ton of upfront work so that when you come to us and say, “Hey Daniel, I need help with my operations,” or “I need help in marketing,” or “Help me have more conversations and get more deals”, when you come to us, you know that the person that we are going to give you is fully vetted and going to be a rockstar to really help drive your business growth.
Theo Hicks: What’s the typical cost of getting a VA for your company?
Daniel Ramsey: For $1,747 a month, which is a great deal if you consider what’s hiring a physical employee, we’re about a third of the cost. And with that $1,747 a month – that’s $1,747 – with that cost we’re giving them health care, we’re making sure that they have vacation time, we’re managing their entire payroll for you. If you think about Upwork, that’s a competitor out there, Upwork is a dating site and MyOutDesk – we’re a real estate, virtual assistant marriage site, meaning we give people long-term opportunities with clients like your audience, because that’s what really helps businesses grow, that’s what really builds wealth in the real estate game, is systems and processes and longevity in your talent pool.
The people who are on your team, they’re with you a long time, they’re tied to the vision, and they really care about you building your wealth. And the other pieces – these folks aren’t going to get trained by you and then go off and compete against you. So they’re in the Philippines, they’re not going to come to, for instance, Sacramento and all of a sudden become an investor themselves once they learn all of your trade secrets and everything you know in the market. So those are some of the costs and what really matters for hiring a virtual assistant.
Theo Hicks: Last question before the money question… What are some of the challenges you faced, just in general – if you have any specific examples, that’d be helpful as well – in grounding your own business?
Daniel Ramsey: You know what, I love that question, and I’ve gotten a lot of mistakes. That’s easy, Theo. First of all, I didn’t have a lot of focus, and as you can tell about your introduction of me, I was a mortgage guy, a real estate guy, a real estate investor, I had a contractor’s license, I was developing property… And now as I look back at it, it was good, because I got a really good depth of knowledge. I know the real estate game, I know what your audience is going through to find jobs, I’m friends or have been in a client relationship with some of the top investors in the country… So I’m thankful for that experience, but I think the one thing that I would have done differently if I could go back is I would have hyper-focused on my one or two businesses.
Back in 2013 I sold off my real estate brokerage and then in 2016 I sold my real estate investments. I literally exited the real estate investment world to solely focus on providing virtual assistants to help companies instantly scale when they’re growing. So I would just say the focus. As an entrepreneur, we all have ADD; I do anyways. If you’re listening and you don’t, you’re a really lucky guy. Sometimes it can feel like a superpower, because I can do a lot and I can get a lot done, but it also means that I don’t hold on to the long-term like I wish I would have… At least certainly when I first got started being an entrepreneur.
Theo Hicks: Alright, Daniel, what is your best real estate investing advice ever, that’s not what you just said?
Daniel Ramsey: Yeah, that’s a great question. My favorite thing is to classify… I got this from a guy named Andrew and he’s a good dude, and he’s been in the, I would say, risk analysis world. So my best advice is definitely get the book, The Richest Man in Babylon. That’s a brilliant book for real estate folks. It has a real estate flair to it because in real estate investing, the biggest thing is the allocation of capital. But I like to classify why I’m investing in a deal, and I’ve got an acronym and it’s DAR. So D stands for Dream. Is the person on the other side of the table from me just selling a dream or is there a real opportunity here? The other thing is Activity. So sometimes you hear people “Well, my podcast has a million downloads” and that’s good, but the business might not have revenue or the business might have some revenue, and a million sounds really great, but it’s not a clear indication that there’s a business there.
So we talked to a lot of investors and they’re like, “I’ve got 13 deals right now that I’m negotiating, and I’m working really hard to get these in contract, and then get them transferred over or wholesaled out.” So that’s activity. Some people sell an investment based on activity.
And the last is Revenue, so R. So it’s DAR – a Dream, Activity or Revenue. Just be clear when you’re investing in real estate or any investment really, why are you making this investment and what are the risks associated with that investment? Obviously, revenue is my favorite. It’s easy to quantify, it’s easy to measure… Warren Buffett’s thing is he doesn’t invest in technology because he doesn’t understand it, and right now, technology is getting tanked. It did back in 2001 and back in 2007.
So, every six or seven years, Warren Buffett seems like a rock star because he says, “I just don’t understand it so I don’t invest in it.” But that’s my favorite way to understand an investment, is that acronym – a dream, is it activity based or is it revenue based for the investment?
Theo Hicks: Alrighty. Are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?
Daniel Ramsey: You rock and roll. Let’s do it.
Theo Hicks: Okay. What is the best ever book you’ve recently read?
Daniel Ramsey: Oh my goodness, I’m not gonna even go best ever, I’m just gonna say – because we’re on the real estate investing podcast – I’m going to say the one that I mentioned earlier, The Richest Man in Babylon. I think that’s a brilliant book.
Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?
Daniel Ramsey: The same thing, meaning what’s cool about building and growing a business is there’s so much opportunity once you understand the game. So I would still be investing in real estate, I would still have a virtual assistant company, I would just do it differently. What’s cool about once you become an entrepreneur and you understand the real game that’s there, that it’s just about generating revenue and managing risk and hiring people, you no longer have that fear that you’re gonna lose everything. So I would do exactly what I’m doing right now.
Theo Hicks: What deal did you lose the most money on and how much money did you lose?
Daniel Ramsey: I love that question. I was just on a podcast the other day about that. I bought a flip in San Francisco, California, which… For those of you, that’s the Bay Area. We call it Bay Area because when you’re in California, you’re like, “I want to go to the Bay.” But it was a house on a hill, and it turned out that hill was unstable. So I had to spend crazy amount of money building a retaining wall, putting metal pipes 25 feet in the ground and having them stick up 10 feet above ground, and there was 250 linear feet of that. So on that deal, because I didn’t manage risk properly, I was in that dream state, I lost $200,000.
Theo Hicks: Then lastly, what is the best ever place to reach you?
Daniel Ramsey: Jump on our website myoutdesk.com, request a consultation. Like I said before, our only job is to help you grow and scale your business with virtual assistants. We get people who come on they’re all day long, and they get business steps that they need to implement over the next three to six months that are massively valuable. Sometimes we can work with somebody and really help them and other times we can’t. So my suggestion is, jump on our website. It’s myoutdesk.com and check it out.
And Theo, if you don’t mind, I’d be happy to give away a copy of our book. We actually have a book, it’s called Scaling Your Business With Virtual Assistants, and for your audience, I’m happy to give it away for free. All you’d have to do to get a copy is text the letters – S, as in Sam, Victor, Paul, to 31996 and you’ll get a copy of our book, absolutely free, and it’s to help people grow and scale real estate businesses with virtual assistants.
Theo Hicks: Thank you for offering that. We’ll make sure we put that in the show notes. Again, that’s text SVP to 31996.
Daniel Ramsey: That’s it.
Theo Hicks: Alright, Daniel. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. I learned a lot about the virtual assistant business, but also just general entrepreneurial advice. Just to quickly go over what we talked about– so MyOutDesk came out of a pain point you had, which was spending a lot of time on your business… And this specific example you gave was working at a bar at 1:00 a.m., you’re on your honeymoon, and then you went over the story of how that started, you started using VAs… A good friend of yours asking you for VAs, you hooked him up with 17, and he said he was able to save about $100,000 every two weeks, and then it’s grown from there to serving over 5,000 clients over the past 12 years.
We talked about the process that a new client goes through and how it starts with a consultation, and you want to know everything they’re doing right now, so you can strategically help them double their business within a year; that’s the key question you ask.
We talked about things that you should not hire a VA for. A VA will help you scale your business, but at the end of the day you’re responsible for scaling your business. You can’t give them a VA who’s going to be a strategic thinker, build your systems, grow your investment world… But you focus specifically on sales, marketing… And then the third one was operations, correct?
Daniel Ramsey: Yeah, those are the three places we serve. Yeah, sales, marketing and ops.
Theo Hicks: You talked about how you find your VAs and some key factors you want to have when you’re doing that. That was interesting that you put them through an FBI background check, and the physical was also pretty interesting. Haven’t heard that one before. You talked about the costs, talked about the challenges for you, for growing your business. I’m sure a lot of people can relate, which is you’re gonna have a challenge if you’re trying to do a million things at once, as opposed to focusing on one or two specific things. You mentioned how you sold all of your other businesses to focus exclusively on this VA business.
Then your best ever advice was when you’re looking at an investment, you want to know if it’s a dream investment, an activity based investment or if you’re actually making money on this thing. Then lastly, again, you offered a free copy of your book, which was, How to Scale Using Virtual Assistants. Text S as in Sam, V as in Victor, P as in Paul to 31996 to get a copy of that free book. We need to use that texting service (I like that) for our books. But again, I really appreciate it, Daniel. Best Ever listeners, thanks for listening. Have a best ever day and we will talk to you tomorrow.
Daniel Ramsey: Thanks, Theo.